Category Archives: Afghanistan

A Voice for Peace in Afghanistan: ‘Stop This Criminal War’

 

Malalai Joya pushes back against a decade of war, occupation and propaganda

By Jon Queally
Beaver County Peace Links via Common Dreams

Jan 10, 2013 – Malalai Joya has a simple message for US, NATO, and Afghan leaders: Get out.

‘Get out’ of her country, she tells those from the US and other western nations. And to the warlords, the Taliban, and the fundamentalists represented in the ruling government, she says ‘get out of the way’ of a peaceful and prosperous future for regular Afghans.

As Afghan President Hamid Karzai prepares to meet with Barack Obama on Friday and speculation swirls about the future US role as 2014 slowly approaches, one of Afghanistan’s leading peace advocates has a message that those in the US—increasingly cited for their war-weariness—rarely hear: Afghans themselves, caught between an occupying power and a corrupt government, are "fed up" with war, death and the destruction of their rights and aspirations.

"We are fed up with the so-called ‘helping hand’ of the US and NATO that is used to justify occupation," Joya said in an extensive interview with journalist Elsa Rassbach and published by Common Dreams Thursday.

Joya, who rose to international prominence as the youngest female member of the Afghan parliament in 2005, says the US-led war in Afghanistan—"waged under a fake banner of human rights and democracy"—has gone on far too long, and what most Afghans want is the complete withdrawal of US troops so that regular Afghans can reclaim their dignity and solve their own problems.

Responding to the Obama and Karzai meeting, Joya explained to Rassbach that agreements made in Washington between the two will do nothing to improve the lives of most Afghans.

Continue reading A Voice for Peace in Afghanistan: ‘Stop This Criminal War’

Where Can We Find a Congressman to Speak for the Antiwar Majority?

CNN Poll: Afghan War Support Hits New Low

Beaver County Peace Links via CNN Political Unit

(CNN, April 2) – Support for the war in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low with the majority of Americans saying the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan before the 2014 deadline set by the Obama administration, according to a new poll.

The CNN/ORC International survey released Friday indicated only 25% of Americans favored the war in the Asian country. A majority of Republicans voiced opposition to it, for the first time since the war began in 2001.

Just 37% of the general public said things are going well for the U.S. in Afghanistan, while only 34% said America is winning the war. The approval likely contributed to the 55% of those surveyed who said the U.S. should remove all of its troops from the country before 2014.

Twenty-two percent expressed support for the 2014 timetable and an additional 22% said the U.S. should keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

Leaders at the Pentagon have recently responded to low poll numbers by stressing the importance of fighting the war on the ground.

Continue reading Where Can We Find a Congressman to Speak for the Antiwar Majority?

End Game: Time to Leave Afghanistan—the Sooner, the Better

Blown Away: How the U.S.

Fanned the Flames in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse
Beaver County Blue via Tomdispatch.com

Feb. 28, 2012 – Is it all over but the (anti-American) shouting — and the killing? Are the exits finally coming into view?

Sometimes, in a moment, the fog lifts, the clouds shift, and you can finally see the landscape ahead with startling clarity. In Afghanistan, Washington may be reaching that moment in a state of panic, horror, and confusion.  Even as an anxious U.S. commander withdrew American and NATO advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul last weekend — approximately 300, military spokesman James Williams tells TomDispatch — the ability of American soldiers to remain on giant fortified bases eating pizza and fried chicken into the distant future is not in doubt.

No set of Taliban guerrillas, suicide bombers, or armed Afghan “allies” turning their guns on their American “brothers” can alter that — not as long as Washington is ready to bring the necessary supplies into semi-blockaded Afghanistan at staggering cost.  But sometimes that’s the least of the matter, not the essence of it.  So if you’re in a mood to mark your calendars, late February 2012 may be the moment when the end game for America’s second Afghan War, launched in October 2001, was initially glimpsed.

Continue reading End Game: Time to Leave Afghanistan—the Sooner, the Better

Valentine’s Day in War Zones

Afghan boys

Cold, Cold Heart

By Kathy Kelly
Beaver County Peace Links via HuffPort

Feb 14, 2012 – It’s Valentine’s Day, and opening the little cartoon on the Google page brings up a sentimental animation with Tony Bennett singing "why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold, cold heart."

Here in Dubai, where I’m awaiting a visa to visit Afghanistan, the weather is already warm and humid. But my bags are packed with sweaters because Kabul is still reeling from the coldest winter on record. Two weeks ago, eight children under age five froze to death there in one of the sprawling refugee camps inhabited by so many who have fled from the battles in other provinces. Since January 15, at least 23 children under the age of five have frozen to death in the camps.

And just over a week ago, eight young shepherds, all but one of them under the age of 14, lit a fire for warmth on the snowy Afghan mountainside in Kapisa Province where they were helping support their families by grazing sheep. French troops saw the fire, and acted on faulty information, and the boys were all killed in two successive NATO airstrikes. The usual denunciations from local authorities, and Western apologies, followed.

So I’m thinking about warmth, and who we share it with and who we don’t.

This is an unexpected trip for me. I had first planned to spend this week at home in Chicago, and then, rather suddenly, agreed to join a group of informal human rights observers traveling to Bahrain for the one year anniversary of their brutally repressed "February 17th Revolution" (please follow events there, and demand that the U.S. cease arming Bahrain’s dictatorship, at witnessbahrain.org). Bahraini authorities declined to issue me a visa, and so I asked the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers if I could change my plans and spend the coming week with them.

My friends tell me that the apartment where I’m headed has been without electricity for several days in a row. The pipes have frozen, so there will be no running water. But in spite of the cold, it’s an especially good time to visit them because twelve of them will be there, on winter vacation from school, including two 14-year-old boys I couldn’t meet during my last visit who spent much of the last year away from the others, back home in Bamiyan province, in their mountain villages, supporting their families.

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Truth, Lies and Afghanistan

Taliban fighters

How military leaders have let us down

By LT. COL. DANIEL L. DAVIS
Beaver County Peace Links via Armed Forces Journal

I spent last year in Afghanistan, visiting and talking with U.S. troops and their Afghan partners. My duties with the Army’s Rapid Equipping Force took me into every significant area where our soldiers engage the enemy. Over the course of 12 months, I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops in Kandahar, Kunar, Ghazni, Khost, Paktika, Kunduz, Balkh, Nangarhar and other provinces.

What I saw bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.

Entering this deployment, I was sincerely hoping to learn that the claims were true: that conditions in Afghanistan were improving, that the local government and military were progressing toward self-sufficiency. I did not need to witness dramatic improvements to be reassured, but merely hoped to see evidence of positive trends, to see companies or battalions produce even minimal but sustainable progress.

Instead, I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.

My arrival in country in late 2010 marked the start of my fourth combat deployment, and my second in Afghanistan. A Regular Army officer in the Armor Branch, I served in Operation Desert Storm, in Afghanistan in 2005-06 and in Iraq in 2008-09. In the middle of my career, I spent eight years in the U.S. Army Reserve and held a number of civilian jobs — among them, legislative correspondent for defense and foreign affairs for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

As a representative for the Rapid Equipping Force, I set out to talk to our troops about their needs and their circumstances. Along the way, I conducted mounted and dismounted combat patrols, spending time with conventional and Special Forces troops. I interviewed or had conversations with more than 250 soldiers in the field, from the lowest-ranking 19-year-old private to division commanders and staff members at every echelon. I spoke at length with Afghan security officials, Afghan civilians and a few village elders.

I saw the incredible difficulties any military force would have to pacify even a single area of any of those provinces; I heard many stories of how insurgents controlled virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a U.S. or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.

I saw little to no evidence the local governments were able to provide for the basic needs of the people. Some of the Afghan civilians I talked with said the people didn’t want to be connected to a predatory or incapable local government.

From time to time, I observed Afghan Security forces collude with the insurgency.

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Out of Iraq! Next, Afghanistan…

Iraq: After Nearly Nine Years of War and

Occupation, America to Withdraw All Troops

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via The Nation

Oct 19, 2011 – In a stunning and largely unexpected victory for the American peace movement and Iraqi opponents of the US occupation, virtually all US troops will withdraw from Iraq as scheduled by this December 31.

First reported by the Associated Press on October 16, the US pullout will allow President Obama to keep an important promise, and the Iraqi government to defend its sovereign power.

Remaining behind in Baghdad, however, will be the world’s largest US Embassy, the size of eighty football fields, with some 5,000 staff, including private contractors. There may be some 160 active-duty US soldiers attached to the embassy, according to the AP story. Thousands more US troops will likely be redeployed over the border to Kuwait.

According to the AP account, the Iraqis rejected intense Pentagon lobbying to retain a “residual” force of thousands of US troops. Earlier this year, the Pentagon was insisting on 10,000–15,000 troops at a minimum, a number that was slashed to a slender 3,000–4,000 troop proposal by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta a few weeks ago.

The main sticking point was the US demand for immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts for American troops. The Iraqi Parliament rejected immunity, citing memories of torture at Abu Ghraib and reckless shootings of civilians by American contractors during the conflict.

Continue reading Out of Iraq! Next, Afghanistan…

Congress Closely Divided on Afghan Vote: Altmire Sides with Long War Republican Bloc

House Democrats Clamor for U.S.

to Speed Withdrawal from Afghanistan

David Lightman and William Douglas
Beaver County Peace Links via McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON, May 26 2011 – Democrats in House of Representatives sent President Barack Obama a strong message Thursday — speed up U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Though the House’s bid to push Obama to expedite the U.S. exit failed, it lost by a surprisingly close 215-204 vote. The outcome, and the fiery debate that preceded it, made it clear that the president’s party, as well as a growing number of Republicans, is growing impatient with the almost 10-year-old war as the 2012 election campaign approaches. In all, 178 Democrats and 26 Republicans voted to pressure Obama. Eight Democrats, most from more conservative districts, and 207 Republicans were opposed. Leading the charge to prod the president were the House’s top Democratic leaders.

“Americans are paying a big price there, we want to make sure we’re getting a return on that investment, and time is a very important factor,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “It’s time for our troops to come home.”

Continue reading Congress Closely Divided on Afghan Vote: Altmire Sides with Long War Republican Bloc